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Ancestral Weapons $4.95
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Austin B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/08/2022 09:33:14

This supplement is okay, but it's got some issues with it I guess the 5-star reviewers didn't notice. They talk about the good things, so I'll give some constructive criticism.

1. The balance of the weapon upgrades is iffy. Since the whole point of this system is to give players magic items, it can be super risky to trust these rules too closely as written. Some of these balance issues are overpowered, others are underpowered, and others just demonstrate a lack of consistency with existing rules.

For example, Magical Core lets you cast a cantrip twice per long rest. Cantrips are meant to be cast at will—why is this limitation added? Fearward and Charmward grant advantage on saving throws against fear and the charmed condition, but they each only cost 1 spirit point. Shadowed, as written, makes you have 3/4 cover when in half cover and total cover when in 3/4 cover. That means it's easy to get +5 AC or be untargetable with a low-level enhancement. Divine Touch heals your allies every time you hit with an attack; restoring hit points is one of the only things in 5e that should never have an unlimited supply like that. And I pity the DM who lets their player use Charged Smite, which multiplies a paladin's smite damage. Mentor lets you cast any spell you know with your highest-level open spell slot. As written, that means you could cast wish with a 1st-level spell slot if that's all you had. Battlemage gives you an ability that Eldritch Knights gain at 18th level, but you can get it at as early as 5th level. And Unflinching lets you ignore disadvantage with ranged attacks when enemies are close by—something you can only do with a feat—for 1 single spirit point at 1st level.

Some of the enhancements are marked as high level, but have very little use value. For instance, Homing lets you attack creatures you cannot see, but you do so at disadvantage and the target gets a +5 to its AC. Pretty poor for a Level 15 enhancement.

2. The editing is incomplete. There are typos in the book, as well as inconsistencies in the language of the enhancements that cause ambiguity. For instance, En Guard says "you gain advantage against the attacking creature until the end of your next turn." Advantage on what? Attack rolls? Saving throws? Does that mean the creature gets disadvantage on the attack roll instead? Some of the text says things like "difficulty" instead of DC, and several of the enhancements are out of alphabetical order.

3. It's just complicated. The supplement says that it's designed to be "simple, flexible, and fun to use." It's certainly flexible, but it's not simple. The spirit points, how you gain them, how to reallocate them and overwrite existing enhancements and fit them into the right rarity, etc., will take a while for DMs and players to fully understand, and even then there may be balance issues from misunderstanding them or trusting them too closely. In my opinion, it would be easier and more balancing for new DMs to simply implement the "upgrading heirloom" system from scratch, without spirit points, by upgrading the existing magic items in the DMG by rarity every 4 or 5 levels. But for DMs who don't mind a little chaos and want their players to determine the path that their weapon takes, this is a good supplement for it if they're willing to take the time to study it. Don't use the crafting table in the appendix though. It's not consistent with any of the crafting rules, and it doesn't take into account spending only a few spirit points at a higher tier.

All in all, I suppose this supplement is worth the low price. But this could be better with some more thorough testing, balance, and editing. If nothing else, the supplement also comes with some sample magic items that are interesting and that can inspire you to make your own. And it can help DMs work on better backstories for their players, which is great all in all.

[3 of 5 Stars!]
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Ancestral Weapons
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